Debunking Las Vegas Shooting Conspiracy Theories

You probably clicked on this thinking you’d find a lengthy, heavily-researched debunking of all of the conspiracy theories and rumors that immediately sprung up after last night’s horrific terrorist attack in Las Vegas.

I bet you were also thinking that once you’ve read it, you’ll be armed with the information you need to face down the legions of trolls, shit-stirrers, cranks, and grief ghouls out there gumming up social media during a time of crisis and mourning.

Unfortunately, you won’t be, because I’m not doing that.

It’s not that I’m opposed to doing so, because I’ve done it before. When I was at Ranker, I spent an entire day debunking all the conspiracy theories regarding the Orlando terrorist attack. It got 40,000 views, and you can read it right here.

I’m not doing it this time because, honestly, most of the Las Vegas conspiracy theories aren’t worth examining.

They’re boring, attention-seeking crap, and they don’t get to have my time or research skills.

Most of what are passing on social media for “conspiracy theories” about Las Vegas are either played out “crisis actor” stories about the government hiring people to pretend to be victims, or cheap-shit memes pushed by Russian bots. Some are lame hoaxes that pop up over and over. Others are the same frenetic garbage spewed out by professional cranks whose job it is to make up inane theories and use them to push the products they sell.

God, who fucking cares what these people think? And why would anyone spend time debating them?

Conspiracy theories exist to explain what can’t be explained, to make sense of what doesn’t make sense. That’s their appeal, and that’s why many are worth diving into.

But while the shooting is still being investigated, on the surface, there’s little here that doesn’t make sense or won’t be explained when we learn more about the terrorist.

The vast majority of the “things that don’t make sense” about a terrorist attack actually do make sense, because for all of its capability, the human mind is deeply flawed. In the wake of any massive tragedy with thousands of eyewitnesses, you get thousands of different stories. Some people heard the shots, others didn’t. Some heard one shooter, others two, others three. Some heard pistol shots, others machine-gun fire. Someone reported a man with a gun here or there.

Most of these early eyewitness reports are easily dismissed as the fog of war, the brain playing the tricks it’s supposed to play.  Or at least they were until the internet came along and turned each one into “evidence” that “something doesn’t add up” about a shooting.

Now that they’re out there for good, they’re used by the professional cranks who make their living off pushing inflammatory nonsense over YouTube videos, livestreams, and social media.

Their job is to make up the most outrageous hot takes and draw attention to their media platforms. If conspiracy theorists have nuanced, reasonable reactions to a horrific event, their clientele (and the precious clicks and views they bring) goes elsewhere.

So of course they’re pretending that victims must be faking it because they don’t “look like” what shooting victims are supposed to look like. Or that the shooting was set up by the government to take our guns away. Or that he’s secretly a Muslim. Or that he was secretly a Hillary voter angry about Trump winning.

These are trash theories designed not for study, but for attention.

So don’t give it to them. Don’t engage with the trolls, the grief ghouls, and the professional cranks. Block them on Twitter, don’t watch their videos, don’t give them the attention they need to survive.

They’ll move on to the next thing soon enough, while the rest of us are trying to figure out how to stop the next shooting, and explain the last one to our kids.

Real conspiracy theories deserve to be studied and debunked.

These cheap imitations deserve to be ignored.



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